Each of us finds ourselves in a set of life circumstances that is made up of many different individual parts working together. If enlightenment is intimacy with all things, as Dogen says elsewhere, then relaxing into a deeper sense of connection with ourselves and the world around us is an important part of our practice. This is true both on and off the cushion. We don’t sit zazen in order to suppress, ignore, change, or run away from the many different thoughts and feelings that arise inside us. Zazen actually gives us the opportunity to develop the ability to be fully present to whatever is going on inside us, just as it is. Over time, we begin to release our hold on all of our expectations, demands, attachments, stories, viewpoints, and all the different ways we resist things being just what they are. Body and mind drop away, as Dogen says, and we experience a sense of deeper connection and intimacy with all things.
The same principle applies in our relationship to the world around us. We spend so much time, energy, and effort demanding that the world and the people in it be something different than what they are. And nothing could be more futile! Releasing our expectations and demands allows us to relax into our lives and settle more deeply into the world around us just as it is. As a result, the sense of separation and fragmentation that is so much a part of our experience disappears, and we are able to flow seamlessly with each moment as it unfolds around us. No separation; only intimate connection.